BUNCOMBE COUNTY – The Asheville area is known to most conservatives as a bastion of Far Left loonies where all hope for sensible politics is lost. Of course, those local to the western part of the Old North State know that the areas surrounding Asheville are far removed from the Leftist politics of the San Francisco of the East.
North Carolina House District 115 is one territory that does contain some conservative hope in the form of Republican contender Amy Evans.
Evans did have a primary opponent, Nathan West, who recently withdrew from the race amid allegations of unpaid taxes and child support. Now the runway is all clear for Evans to take on Democrat incumbent John Ager, and she has plenty of fuel to take flight.
First in Freedom Daily spoke with Evans in order to provide district voters a clearer picture of who Evans is, and why she would be a better representative for the people of the 115th.
Moving to the Asheville/Black Mountain area about five years ago for a semi-retirement closer to her ageing parents, Evans has a 30 year background in business and experience running small businesses here, as well as spearheading solutions for for some big manufacturing businesses that form the backbone of rural North Carolina.
“To be quite frank my arm was twisted, but I’ve been in politics for 15 or 20 years […] I’m a relative newcomer to the political climate here in North Carolina, especially western North Carolina. My parents retired here about 20 years ago and they have been progressively more and more ill and so I semi-retired from my career in Chicago, which is financial services.”
Her relationship with North Carolina is not merely five years old, though. She started her business career in the Research Triangle Park, doing research and development for a Dupont spin off, 30 years ago. Even further back, Evans and her husband served in the Coast Guard and, before traveling the world in their service, were stationed at the U.S. Coast Guard’s Fort Macon installation in Atlantic Beach. Her two grown children were born at Carteret County General Hospital.
“I worked with senior management teams for very large companies. I started my career with Dupont in the Research Triangle Park 30 years ago.[…] My husband and I were in the Coast Guard many years ago, and both my children were born in Morehead City.”
So, why, after a successful business career, raising two children, and slowing down to beautiful western North Carolina to be near her parents, would she run for office?
“I’m a business woman, not a politician. The five years I’ve been in western North Carolina I see there’s a great need for education opportunities for young people, and common sense solutions for businesses. […] In this area I am very well known, I’m a businesswoman. I managed a store here in Black Mountain for five years. Through that venue I have gotten to know all the business owners in Asheville and Black Mountain and even as far as Macon County, where my parents live.
Most of my background is running for small government – that’s what I believe in. I’m a firm believer in the Second Amendment, in its entirety. I’m not interested in slippery slopes and banning this [gun] and then banning that one, or updating the Second Amendment.
In order to serve the vets, my proposition is to train some of the veterans that can’t find jobs because of their disabilities and put them in the schools and help them intermingle with the children on the playground and keep an adult presence with the children at all times, to see if that would alleviate some of the tension that’s going on and the spotlight which is being seen through a Second Amendment lens. I have a little bit of a different view on what’s going on in public safety. I think it’s more of a cultural issue, not a gun issue. I don’t think it’s a Second Amendment issue.”
Ideologically, Evans describes herself as a ‘Conservative’s conservative,’ but how will a pro-life, pro-Second Amendment, limited government candidate play in a place that, to outside observers, would be more at home on the Left coast?
“We do have some very conservative Republican pockets in this area, and thank heavens they seem to fall within my district. The 115th is pretty conservative because it’s rural. As you get closer to Asheville, I have a little chunk of Asheville, it is very, very liberal. It’s not as much Democrat as you think, it’s more like Bernie Sanders Democrat. There are no Blue Dogs left.
I represent the parents who are concerned about their young people and what they’re taught in schools. I also have a heart for the veterans, because I’m a disabled Vietnam era veteran myself. I live about four miles up the road from one of the top five VA hospitals in the country.”
Beyond her conservative credentials, though, Evans offers voters a chance to send a representative to Jones Street that knows businesses, their struggles, and the advantage of synergy between communities and commercial interests. She already has first hand experience in marrying community and business interests to the benefit of local economies and education.
Having previously worked for Baxter Healthcare while living in Chicago, Evans was recruited to help a McDowell County Baxter manufacturing plant that was having workforce and production issues. And those issues threatened more than just Baxter’s bottom line.
“We were having a problem with production of our IV solutions – the Marion plant provides 95 percent of all IV solution bags in the United States – and we were having an issue with not keeping up with production. The plant had been sliding for five to six years. We discovered it was actually a cultural issue, that our young people didn’t have educational opportunities, didn’t have job opportunities.
We worked a deal with the economic development organization within McDowell County, with Baxter Healthcare, and with the State. Baxter put up I think a couple million dollars, the capital and the jobs, and we went into the McDowell County school system and picked out the seniors with electric engineering backgrounds, mechanical engineering, plumbing – things that we needed in our plant immediately and we couldn’t get them because they weren’t teaching that in the schools. We wrote an agreement with the McDowell Community College to take these young kids right out of high school and put them in the community college for a course, approximately 21 months, then once they graduated they would go right into Baxter at a really decent pay rate.”
While the Urban/Rural Divide still has a long way to go before closing, in economic development terms, workforce development partnerships like Evans’ Baxter project have filled in the void for many a rural community across the North Carolina.
This is the kind of knowledge and experience that Evans will bring to the General Assembly.
“It was a supply and demand need, it helped Baxter meet its demand, and the McDowell schools were invigorated. The attrition rates are down – it was 20 percent, and the nation’s average is four percent in manufacturing.
Things like that is what is close to my heart. It takes a little digging and going into these areas and finding out the needs and figuring out solutions. There are ways to do that other than just saying well, just send them to UNC Asheville for a liberal arts education in political science and he or she is not going to be able to get a job after they graduate after spending $100,000. It’s that kind of stuff that I am not for. I am more for common sense government, common sense school opportunities for young people, because they need jobs.
Everywhere I go here, the manufacturing companies are having the same issues. It might be something a little bit different related to their product line, but they’re having the cultural issues of people that are not technically prepared to perform and keep the company solvent and afloat.”
Moving forward past the moot primary election, how does Evans plan to defeat incumbent Democrat Rep. John Ager?
“My eye is focused on John Ager, and he doesn’t seem to have a very successful record in the House.
At this level of the race we’re trying to do the numbers game. We have a social media program that we’re putting out, we’re phone banking, and grassrooting. We’re not putting a lot of bang on appearances and events [at this point]. I’m focusing on talking more to the people.”
The people of District 115 would surely benefit from electing a principled conservative with a nose for business to speak for them in the North Carolina House. Grounded in her values, Evans has demonstrated a capacity for leadership and success in business, as well as the community as a whole, that would serve to represent the interests of the area well.
Plus, she doesn’t have to do it. Evans could just as easily lay back and enjoy the scenic beauty of the North Carolina mountains while resting on her business laurels and caring for her parents, but it’s not in her nature to sit back when positive changes can be made, evidently. She would surely be a positive change for N.C. House District 115.
Learn more about Amy Evans’s impressive background and her campaign at her campaign site here.